Chapter Eleven

After our experience in hell, we decided to sail off towards the land of Guardia to deliver Jak home to his city. It was a long voyage, but after some time we arrived there to find a gigantic city, a place of commerce, crime and wonder, a place of ancient history and modern sites, with numerous legends around it and numerous people of interest. I spent a bit of time with Jak, the ?Jokes? Mulligan, finding out about his thieves? guild and the petty missions they had him do. He seemed to become marginally obsessed with me at this time, following me everyone I went, trying to dress like me and act like me. It was pathetic. His missions were rather pathetic too. On one of them, he asked me to come along. I thought about it, until I found out what it was: a grave robbing mission. He needed me to dig for him; not my kind of work. We spent some time in Guardia, and while I went on my various adventures, Gaspar was doing his own thing. Unknown to us at the time, he had sold his soul to the devil. Disillusioned by what he saw in hell, Gaspar was now a blackguard who worshipped Asmodeus. The paladin had fallen, but in my mind it seemed hardly a change; he was leaving one master for another, and although Gaspar was an honorable man, he still insisted on being a slave. My search in Guardia soon took me to the local adventurer’s guild, where some jobs were posted. There were two interesting ones; the first to help out a wizard who wanted to transport some items, the second to slay a sea-monster. I decided to sign up for both. The first mission took us to the tower of a man named Mu, an elderly gentleman who was apparently far older than any human alive, and a wizard of epic power. He had an interesting job for us, and began explaining it to everyone after we met at the docks of Guardia. Mu began speaking of two boxes that he needed to find, boxes we could help him locate. Suddenly, Jokes interceded with an insulting comment about my mother. Angrily, I told him that my mother was dead. Gaspar was even more insulted by Jak’s outburst. He decked Mulligan in the face. Jak responded by pulling out his sword and threatening to kill Gaspar. Latheric would have none of this. Using his powers of telekinesis, he threw Jak into the water to cool off. Afterwards, Mulligan stormed off to do his grave-robbing mission. We briefly went after the sea serpent, and managed to slay it without even a struggle, as I killed it in one hit of my sword, decapitating it instantly. I had the enormous head mounted, then gave it as a gift to the adventurer’s guild. To this day it serves as the entrance. Afterwards, I decided to follow Jak on his grave digging mission, invisible. Gaspar followed, buying a ring for the task. Jak went on his mission, but had to go back when he got to the graveyard, as he had forgotten a shovel. He eventually returned after buying one, and started his mission. When he dug up the grave, he was surprised to see the dead man jump up and begin yelling at him and attacking, the result of one of Gaspar’s foul spells. Jak was terrified. I immediately destroyed the undead thing, and Jak took his prize off of the man’s finger.

After that interlude we began Mu’s quest; which was to locate the two boxes. He told us that inside of them were two great artifacts; the gems of ultimate good and evil. We began our search, and some research guided us to a Captain Mack, who was supposedly the last man to have them. We located his ship on the bottom of the ocean, a haunted place where Mack’s ghost wandered, restless and undead. We lifted his curse, bringing the bodies of him and his men to the surface for burial, and afterwards we found our boxes and gave them to our new patron. While he told us the long story of their history, we sat in a fine tavern, a remarkable place made of solid gold, called Raine’s. It was here that Jak Mulligan perished, as he choked to death on one of their burgers, as if slain by God himself. Few mourned him, for the Jokes was a truly wretched and petty man. Still, I gave him a burial in the local graveyard.

Afterwards we went to Mu’s tower in Guardia to discuss things some more, and to open the boxes. The mighty gems were indeed inside, and as Mu began looking them over, Gaspar suddenly reached out and stole the gem of evil. Immediately, the former paladin was transformed by its powers, becoming stronger, more powerful, more demonic and twisted. I began to try and get the gem away from him, but he would not give it up. He tried fleeing, but I pursued him as he flew out of the tower. He deflected some of my attacks away using his new powers, but still I managed to nearly cut it out of his hand, though this hurt him greatly. Mu launched several spells at him at the same time, and the final one, a fire-ball killed Gaspar, his body falling dead to the ground. I took the gem of evil, though avoiding direct contact with it. (Power is a fine thing, but I’d be damned if I’m gonna be the slave of some uber-artifact). After we got the gem back to Mu, he took the both of them and went back to his tower. From there, he placed them in a pool and gave them directly to his master, an elusive wizard named Merlin, one of the supposed Guardians of this plane. As it turned out, this was one big trap. Merlin was Tabber, who had apparently survived our previous encounter. He now had both of these gems. Using their power, he immediately destroyed the Pomarj, melting it to a puddle of lava. He then caused a horrendous rain all over the world, then froze all of the land in solid ice. Only we could stop him, and Mu decided to help us this time. To defeat him we even brought Gaspar back, but on the condition that he repent for his evil ways. After some quests, Sir Gaspar was once again a paladin. Aided by Zigian the Druid, Estienne, High Priestess of Guardia, and the insane sorcerer Sivis, we sought out Tabber’s base on the south continent and began trudging through arctic wastes to find him. Here we fought a battle with various elemental things. Sivis and Zigian died, though the rest of us were barely hurt at all, laughing in the face of Tabber’s weak slaves. Suddenly, Latheric was possessed, and killed Mu with a powerful spell. He then teleported away, then used other magic to make Estienne appear before him, ready to slay her too. She broke his possession with some magic of her own, driving Tabber out of his body. Afterwards we raised Mu and the others from the dead, and prepared to go back to the south pole. Suddenly, as we were sitting in Lockinton castle, Jacob Tabber himself arrived. He didn’t want a fight. He wanted diplomacy. We bargained for hours. Eventually, we agreed to split the world up. He would have the underdark, we the upper side. He handed over the gem of good, and we spent some time debating who should use it. Everyone seemed to want it, from virtuous Agamemnon to goofy Janko, Gaspar’s sidekick. Only, I didn’t want the thing at all. I was no champion of goodness, and just as I had no desire for the gem of evil, I had no wish to be forced into goodness by some moral rock. There was voting, random drawing of straws, all done to decide who was going to bear this gem. In the end, it was a nearly random choice; Latheric was chosen, of all people, to be the champion of good, though lately he had been showing some evil inclinations. Still, he was no worse a choice than anyone else, and certainly had the dedication necessary for it. Thus he took it, becoming an avatar of decency and niceness. He melted Tabber’s freeze, saved the people of our world, and even brought back Jessalyn from her ship in the middle of the sea. Afterwards, everyone was overjoyed. The world was saved once again from evil, and it looked like some kind of balance was reached. Jessalyn arrived back in the city, even, and it looked as though her and Gaspar would have a happy reunion. But the truth was that she had probably never loved him, and tragically, in the coming years their relationship fell to pieces and nothing remotely passionate ever happened between them. Eventually she disappeared somewhere. Latheric was very busy as champion of good: communing with the gods, running the city, being a bonafide celebrity. Aggie decided to explore the world, and left us once more. Estienne went back to her priestly duties in Guardia. Ziggian went back to doing whatever Ziggian does, and the newly raised Jak Mulligan went back to being a worthless prick, though far from my presence. Mu became a tutor at Latheric’s new wizard’s academy, as did our old friend Settin. It looked like the world was restored to a state of true peace, a peace which only comes about through compromise. Hated enemies had found resolution through negotiation, the violence of the past looked to be over.

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